Quick Takes: Some Good Games To Catch Up On (In A Year Of Too Many Great Ones), Part 1


 

Yep, the backlog has been officially backloggier thanks to stuff being stuff in the real world. But things are getting played bit by bit here despite incessantly annoying diversions. Hey, one needs something FUN to do between bouts of eyebrow lifts, sighing into adult beverages and trying not to trip over the assorted stacks of THINGS TO GET DONE lined carefully in strategic spots around the office. Okay, it’s not anywhere near that terrible, but I love to melodrama my issues a bit much. Anyway, here’s part one of a series of capsule reviews, or a brief rundown on things that have been tackled, games division.
 


 

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing Extended Edition (PS4): If you’re a big Diablo III or other isometric ARPG fan and want another game of the chase and chop variety, a mere $20 will be well spent on NeoCore Games’ more amusing and in some areas, harder game. While it goes for a more Steampunk Victorian visual aesthetic and uses a good deal more in the way of humor in its storytelling, the quest and side-quest 1-2 punch holds things together quite nicely. Granted, you have fewer classes to play around with, but the skills system for your Van Helsing and his ghostly aide Katerina ends up being pretty complex with many passive skills that boost combat to some often grand destructive levels. There’s no defensive roll like the console versions of DIII, but you’ll get used to dealing with huge packs of foes by taking it slower and picking off smaller groups one by one.

The game is generally solid overall and features online co-op play (no split-screen here, sorry!), a very fun “tower defense” mode that pops up a few times as a diversion from the main plot, and about 30 or so hours of gameplay if you’re determined to get everywhere you can on one run. The ending is somewhat of a ‘To Be Continued’ deal, but having played the other parts on PC, it’s worth the wait for the sequel to hit PS4 at some point. In fact, as this is only the first of three chapters, it would be great to see the other two arrive on PSN as soon as humanly possible and perhaps later, the entire trilogy out on a disc via a small print publisher like Limited Run Games or SOEDESCO. As always, we shall see. But for the money there’s a load of great fun to be had and had again.
 


 

Mantis Burn Racing (PC/PS4/Xbox One): While it’s initially short on tracks and content compared to other arcade racers, the difficulty curve in developer VooFoo Studios racer makes the game supremely challenging right from the get-go. A blazing fast proprietary engine showcases gorgeous 60fps racing where the slightest mistake will leave you in back of the pack and eating the digital dust of your opponents blowing past you. Practice makes perfect, but expect the game to not let you breathe much against AI that gets better as you do. Against live players the competition is far fiercer with expert players constantly making short work of anyone popping online for the friendliest of matches. You’re going to get smoked like a country ham if you’re not ready for the tracks in this one for sure.

That said, once you get the handling and have matches where you’re in the zone and nail those tricky turns, not bashing into other cars and generally having a zen-like experience racking up wins, the game is so hard to put down that you may need an alarm set to remind you to do important stuff. I haven’t tried out the new Snowbound DLC yet, but if this video is any indication, this 100% FREE update is going to suck me in all over again to the point where I’ll need to get a dog or cat or some other pet to remind me with a paw to the face to get up and go for a stroll, play with or feed them. A service animal for gamers? Who knew!
 

More quickies below he jump! Continue reading

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Tiny Bubbles: On Computers, Trailers, Cabbages, and Kings (Or Something Like That)

(Thanks, joanbeque!)

TRUTH. If you click off your computing device for long enough to get outside the bubble you’ve put yourselves in, de-stress for a spell AND stay away from your phone other than anything other than it’s initially Alexander Graham Bell’d purpose (just phone calls, folks!), you’ll probably become happier. At least temporarily. Granted, many people you don’t really know in real life but are your “online friends” will think you’ve died or have had an accident… but won’t check up on you because they’re busy with other stuff like catching up on their favorite reality shows and other important things.

Now, I’ve actually been in the midst of a few too many projects, had an eye allergy bug me for a bit and as of this writing have like 49 movies to catch up on (my movie watching partner tapped out thanks to personal issues I won’t discuss here because they’re Nunya Bizness… or mine, for that matter) and a bunch of half-scribed reviews and such piling up. Those will get done, latest Windows updates aside.

That particular nightmare first and foremost – Windows 10 is making me (and probably you) nuts.
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Goodbye, Mr. Warmth

(Thanks, paratrip!)
 

I don’t remember the first time I saw the late, great Don Rickles on TV, but if it was a comedic appearance, I laughed my ass off. I think it was one of his appearances on an episode of The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast from 1974, but I think it may have been a few years earlier thanks to X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes airing on what I think was WPIX’ late, great Chiller Theater. Anyway, Don was the master of perfectly timed insults, the Prince of the Putdown, The Man You Went To See When You Needed To Be Taken Down A Few Notches And Wanted To Pay For The Privilege Of Being Insulted By The Best. Period. That sort of insult comedy was a great deal bigger back when Rickles was playing the circuit, when people were less triggered and more willing to laugh at themselves thanks to a man who could peg you with zingers, moving onto the next lucky or unlucky sap who dared to sit too close to the stage. Don made it work because you knew he was a total pussycat off stage, but once he got up to perform, all bets were off and if he singled you out, you’d better be prepared for the worst with an entire room full of people laughing at you.

(Thanks, ann turkel!)
 

Watching him in these old clips still makes me laugh loudly and that’s the best medicine for pretty much anything that ails you. I recall working for a guy many moons ago who was a bit of a stingy sourpuss, yet he paid good money to see Don live a few times around the country. Let me tell you, his mood was so much lighter after he returned that he was quite the nicest guy on the planet for a few days. I got a random raise once after one of his trips to see Rickles perform, apparently thanks to an ugly tie I’d given him as a birthday gift and a guy and his wife seated next to him who wanted to switch seats at the last minute. So I own an indirect thanks to the funnyman for getting me more money at one point in my life. Thanks, Don, er… Mr. Rickles. I’d probably not know what to say to the man if I ran into him at Patsy’s here in NYC, but I understand that he was pretty good with fans who approached him. Off stage, he was still a big prankster with his close friends, but treated regular folk just right.

(Thanks, KUSH Comedy!)
 

Now, you probably don’t need to buy both seasons of CPO Sharkey on DVD if you need a Rickles fix (although you should, as it was quite a hilariously wacky show for the era. My suggestion is to grab a copy of the 2007 documentary Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project for a nice and hilarious look at the man at work. Yes, he also did a few dramatic performances and of course, younger folks will remember him as the voice of Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story movies. I’ll stop here because I need some laughs, and Don would probably give me one of those looks and lay into me something fierce for trying to be too damn sentimental.

-GW

PC Review: Yooka-Laylee

While playing Yooka-Laylee,
the words, they kinda fail me
it all feels so nineteen-ninety nine.

That’s really not a bad thing
Fact: parts of it indeed sing
But others have me screaming half the time.

The camera’s got the jitters
This game’s not made for quitters
But still, it takes some patience to align.

The game world’s quite expansive
with infinite life chances
But tumbling off those ledges? Not sublime.

To give Playtonic their due
when stuff works well, it feels true
and older fans will find a lot of shine.

But games have come a long way
Those mascots, they’ve had their day
And newer work has fixed what was a “crime.”

The old school’s kinda backwards
One time it won most placards
But now, it’s seen more classical than prime.

The Ratchets, Slys, and others
Are the more modern druthers
So, is this vintage style worth your dime?

Provided you mind its quirks
You’ll find quite a few good perks
Collectibles galore? Tough to decline!

Those flaws, the dev can fix them
And make this game a true gem
bringing those bugs to heel as benign.

For Rare fans reminiscing
There’s fun here, but lots missing
But there’s no need to yell a lot or whine.

Whether pre-bought or now still sold
I’d say bad reviews will seem old
But only if the update redesigns!

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Earth Defense Forces 5 Presents: His and Her-strionics

 

Oh, these are hilarious. If you know someone who speaks Japanese, have them sit down and watch these crazy YouTube videos for Earth Defense Forces 5 and try to keep a straight face. Set for a summer 2017 launch exclusively on PS4, D3Publisher and busy developer Sandlot are making the biggest and most bizarre EDF game to date.If you don’t know anyone who speaks the language, the subtitled version of the first trailer is here.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the usual horde of giant ants and spiders are all in as they should be, but the skyscraper tall alien frogs and soldiers are a total freak-out that are going to make a tough game a heck of a lot tougher. I have questions for the dev team about this and many oher things, of course. But I prefer to just play the game and see how it turned out as that sort of time spent usually answers most questions in the most fun manner.

 

That said, the only truly pressing question I have as I write this is whether to import or wait for a localized version. I should hold off until a western publisher and date are revealed, but previous EDF games take so long to get localized that I may end up biting the bullet early. Hey, I need to practice for the actual invasion force coming soon and knowing the enemy is the best strategy, right? Right. I knew you’d see it my way.

-GW

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IT Teaser Trailer: What? That? Oh, Right.

Okay… it’s confession time, again. CLOWNS DO NOT SCARE ME. At all. There, I said it. Hey, I grew up going to circuses on class trips (the animal waste smell was worse than the greasepaint talent, folks), watching Bozo the freakin’ Clown on TV, so clowns make me laugh. Even Killer Klowns From Outer Space. Okay, serial killers in real life who’ve dressed as clowns? Yeah, but that’s different. Hell, I’ve even painted an evil clown for a magazine cover back in the day and my sleep has been secure. Well, up to the point a bunch of orange clowns slipped into seats of power with plans to turn the rivers and skies blacker than the unclean resources they claim are otherwise. But, I digress. I do like the look of this from the trailer, haven’t reread the book in over 15 years or longer and thought Tim Curry looked great as Pennywise because his makeup gave him a light bulb shaped noggin that reminded me of Greedy Killerwatt. Yes, I am as old as dirt.

Anyway, we’ll soon see how Pennywise it was to remake this Stephen King classic, but as he’s given it his blessing, it certainly looks to be some sort of more definitive version than that old TV movie was. I predict a huge horror hit because humans are scared of the strangest stuff that’s not at all real while strangely doing scary stuff to each other straight out of a horror flick on a daily basis. Go figure.

-GW

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Spider-Man: Homecoming Trailer: Re-suit Reboot Looks To Grab Loot

 


 

So, how are you doing, dear readers? Good? Good. Me? Meh, I’m doing okay. Anyway, I missed the first trailer to Spider-Man: Homecoming a few months back, so it’s above and the newer trailer that dropped yesterday is below. The big legal issues keeping Spidey out of Marvel’s bigger cinematic universe seem to be ironed out (at least for the foreseeable future), so say hello a second time to Tom Holland, whose portrayal of the character in Captain America: Civil War helped give that film some much-needed levity. Speaking of levity, how’s the kind of in-joke of Michael Keaton going from playing Birdman to another bird-man get you? I don’t think Oscar will come calling again for a superhero flick (despite what Logan has done in terms of critical response and yeah, yeah, Suicide Squad winning its hair/makeup award), but it’s also just fine by me that this reboot isn’t looking as cheesy as the last few attempts at making him a big deal were.


 

That said, my rules of engagement still apply: Unless I get invited to a premiere here in NYC, I’m holding out for the Blu-Ray version for those bonus features and any extended footage chopped out of the theatrical cut. I don’t think Marvel is quite as nefarious as DC in terms of this stuff, but I’m admittedly a few films behind in both cinematic universes.

-GW

As Always, TT Games Has A LEGO Up On The Competition

 

 

For my money (and most likely yours, if you’re also a fan of their work), London-based TT Games is one of the most reliable game developers working today. Working with their own proprietary engines, their long line of licensed LEGO games has brought millions of players of all ages far too much fun for their money. The great thing about a LEGO game is you know on one level what you’re getting, but where you go with what you get is completely up to you. WB Games bought three of the newest LEGO titles to NYC along with a few folks from TT Games to show press and a bunch of lucky kids what’s headed their way in 2017 and yes, the operative word here was FUN (and lots of it).
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Warner Archive’s 4 for $44 Sale Gets You Some Great Flicks Cheap


 

Ever have one on THOSE days where you need to go home and just chill out in front of the tube with some great “B”, classic or other fun movie? Well, Warner Archive has you covered if you act fast. Check out their 4 For $44 Sale on a whopping 2,176 Blu-Rays and DVD’s… and don’t be so darn surprised after you’ve spent well over $44. This is a great selection of stuff from Hollywood classics, foreign flicks and even a few old TV shows you maybe thought you’d never see again. Even better, FREE SHIPPING is on board for you if you’re in the U-S of A, whee!

Hey, at least you’ll have something better to do than hunker down in front of the bunker tube sucking down depressing news or hanging yourself on some social needy-a site eating peanut butter on hardtack with sardines from your doomsday stash while worrying yourself sick over what The Little Truck Driver is up to. Hey, that’s not what I’ve been up to, as I wouldn’t mix peanut butter and sardines if you paid me. I think I have a hardtack recipe here, though. Anyway, go buy some stuff because you know you’ve always wanted to make a fort out of DVD and Blu-Ray cases. All that goodness expires on March 26at 6am EST, so get clicking, folks!

-GW

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Justice League Trailer: See? Gee! Aye.


 


 

Hmmm. On one hand, the Justice League trailer does what it needs to do and does it well enough that DC fans will appreciate everything it has to offer, so that’s good. On the other hand, the CG-packed visuals (is there a single shot that’s not enhanced in some way?) complete with Zack Snyder’s trademark dark, gritty visuals make it look like another loud post-summer blockbuster non-fans might want to avoid in favor of some quiet time with a good book. As usual, I’m ambivalent here. I’ll see this when I have the time as I’m not so wholly invested in these soopa-hee-ro flicks to trample over some old ladies on the way to the nearest megaplex. Unless, of course I get an invite to some big deal star-studded premiere here in NYC, whereupon I’ll turn into Richard Widmark as Tommy Udo from Kiss of Death (sorry in advance, old ladies! But, bonus points if you have a few baskets of puppies and freshly baked cookies in your laps):

(Thanks, Doug Jay!)
 

Or perhaps not. Hey, that Widmark sure would have made a fantastic Joker had anyone back then wanted to make a real Batman film and not some budget-minded serial, huh? Amirite? Anyway, an invite to a screening isn’t a mandate and I don’t feel like buying or renting a tuxedo penguin outfit for the occasion. I do have a suit here, but it’s probably not going to fit my winter fat self even a few months down the road as the film opens November 17 and I’ll be back to stuffing myself silly again. Eh, whatever. Suicide Squad won a friggin’ Oscar, so who knows what will happen with this film.

-GW

(NOTE: no old ladies were harmed in the making of this post, the baskets of puppies were all adopted to good homes and yes, I’m eating the freshly-baked cookies as I type this, yum!)